2012 Quality Home Comfort Award Winner
Woodland Park CO

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2012 Quality Home Comfort Award Winner

When Dean and Kathy Buysse of Minnesota decided to build a vacation home on a remote site in Woodland Park, Colo., they knew they would invite many family and friends for visits, so their priorities for heating and cooling were absolute comfort and indoor air quality. At 8,595 feet altitude, in a dry climate, a valid concern was maintaining humidity at a comfortable level. Since they split their time between Minnesota and the vacation home, having remote access to the heating, cooling and hot-water systems for monitoring and control was also an important consideration. They turned to Al Wallace and his company, Energy Environmental Corporation (EEC), for a high-performance, integrated HVAC and total comfort system.

Ten percent of the $2.2 million construction represents the HVAC system for the home, and the investment was split between sustainable products (such as geothermal heat pumps and Uponor’s Climate Cŏntrol™ Network System) and conventional radiant hydronic components (including Uponor PEX-a tubing for radiant heating, cooling and snow melt). EEC’s goal was to achieve the highest level of comfort with the greatest energy efficiency possible using sustainable technologies. One of the design goals was to maintain an operative temperature (OT) within ½ degree of set point anywhere within a heating or cooling zone (OT= average of mean radiant temperature and the air temperature). “It was a challenge to maintain the set point in both heating and cooling modes given the high ceilings and direct solar exposure of high-mass radiant floors with the passive solar design,” Wallace said.

The integrated system design provides heating and cooling through a ground source heat pump with a reversing valve to provide hot or chilled water to dedicated heating and cooling buffer tanks. Uponor's Wirsbo hePEX™ ½" distribution piping was installed at six inches on center – spacing required for a radiant floor cooling system. Circulation pumps and hydronic fan coils provide cooling and dehumidification in line with three energy recovery ventilators. The control system uses commercial off-the-shelf control modules through Uponor’s Climate Cŏntrol Network System.

The climate control system is a hydronic regulator that offers a streamlined approach to installing controls for radiant heating and cooling systems. Instead of creating specific individual controls for domestic hot water, mixing, snowmelt, boiler staging and zone pumping, all of these and other functionalities are handled by this single, easy-to-use, programmable control from Uponor. The home is divided into 19 radiant zones, each operated individually, along with five snowmelt zones. Bathrooms are enabled for heating only (no cooling) due to the possibility of condensation when cooling resulting from the rapid rise in humidity from showers.

EEC’s design eliminated many of the inherent balancing and comfort issues prevalent in air systems. An Uponor Network System-compatible thermostat was installed in each zone with air temperature sensors, an infrared floor temperature sensor, connections for an in-slab temperature sensor and a humidity sensor. These intelligent devices communicate with the Climate Cŏntrol Network System to determine radiant supply temperatures to the home. In heating mode, the supply temperature uses outdoor reset control to maintain the lowest temperature required to meet heating demand. Since the Network System is software-controlled and global settings can override the settings of any one thermostat, the system can learn over time what operating temperatures provide the highest energy-efficiency while maintaining thermal comfort.

“Unlike an air system, the hydronic system, as designed here, is almost self-balancing,” Wallace says. “Since every zone has a dedicated multi-temperature sensor, individual control with a dedicated zone valve, every room is a micro-climate in the overall heating and cooling envelope.”

The home’s innovative system design and impressive energy efficiency garnered recognition by Contracting Business magazine, which honored the home with their 2012 Quality Home Comfort Award. The award was created to recognize and honor the very best in residential comfort system design and application. The prestigious award stresses the importance and value of the HVAC system as a key component for a well-built, environmentally sustainable, cost-effective and comfortable home. In doing so, this program sets the standards of residential HVAC excellence.

Project Highlights

• 2012 Quality Home Comfort Award Winner
• HVAC Contractor: Energy Environmental Corporation (EEC)
• Square Feet: 11,522
• Cost of home: $2.2 million
• Total comfort investment: $195,000 (10% of construction costs)

Project Data

• Uponor Radiant Heating and Cooling System
• Uponor Snow and Ice Melt System
• Uponor Climate Cŏntrol™ Network System
• ½" Wirsbo hePEX™ Tubing
• Uponor Multi-layer Composite (MLC) Tubing